Flashback Friday: The Great Passport Heist

In Blog by Kay18 Comments

It’s Friday, so I figured I’d end the week with a quick story!

Remember that time I was in Paris? Well, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t all beautiful architecture and famous monuments. In fact, the one memory that stands out to me the most during my trip to Paris doesn’t have to do with the city at all!

It all started after getting off the train in Paris. I was eighteen years old and on my own in a foreign country with little French knowledge, and I was feeling fresh. It was a partly cloudy summer day with its share of tourists, but I arrived pretty early so fortunately the streets were not too crowded. First, I visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame and walked around in that area. Next, I hoped to visit the Eiffel Tower, but to my dismay, the metro line that goes from the Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower was broken. Not having anything else to do, I decided to walk. Hey, why not? It was nice and breezy outside, the Seine is beautiful and I was ready to see the city. Plus, everyone likes a little fresh air.

I happened to run into a big crowd of tourists who had also decided to walk in the same direction, so I walked among them and made small talk. Things were going great until suddenly, I felt a tug at my backpack. I thought maybe it had gotten caught on something, so I felt behind me, only to realize one of the zippers was open – the one that carried my wallet and cell phone.

Frantically, I looked through my backpack to make sure nothing had been stolen. Wallet? Check. Cell phone? Check. Keys, camera, money? Yup. My stomach sank as I realized what was missing: my passport.

Shocked, I kept trudging along the Seine with the group of tourists I’d found. Someone even asked me if I was okay. A lump formed in my throat as I thought about what could happen – as an eighteen-year-old girl traveling alone with minimal knowledge of French, a million things could go wrong. Even worse, the breeze was picking up and it looked like it was about to rain.

A man wearing a fluffy, white scarf was pushing through the crowd to my left. These people, I thought to myself, are always in such a hurry! He certainly seemed to be late for something.

Then, suddenly, a gust of wind blew the man’s scarf up and I saw him holding my passport, with its owl-themed case, underneath. I gasped and, without thinking, made my way toward him. He was walking swiftly though, so once I was within arms’ reach, I grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. Then, I looked him in the eye and said, “Excuse me, sir, I think that’s mine.” I then snatched the passport straight from his hand and walked away before he could say anything more.

Needless to say, I learned that day how to care for my belongings while traveling and how to be alert. When things like this happen, it’s important to act quickly and stay in control. Now, I always keep my passport very well-hidden, and I make sure to make my valuables difficult to access. Although I was terrified at the time, this is certainly a memory I’ll never forget!

Comments

  1. That ended incredibly well. What were the chances of the wind blowing just when you needed it? Lucky you!

    1. Author

      The stars were definitely in my favor on this day! I definitely learned my lesson!

      ~Kay

  2. Oh my god I can’t believe that happened to you! Good job getting it back though… I think I would’ve had a heart attack.

  3. Wow, lucky! And a good way to learn that lesson – without actually having to go through all the hassle associated with getting a new passport!

  4. So glad this turned out to be not such a negative experience. So incredibly lucky to have that gust of wind come along. Good advice for other travellers too. I always am paranoid about my passport and money. Sometimes carry my backpack on my chest if it is a particularly dodgy area.

    1. Author

      Amanda,

      I agree, after this incident I definitely became paranoid about my belongings. It’s always good to stay alert while traveling, especially when you’re by yourself! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      ~Kay

  5. Wow what a story. That is amazing you found the guy who had it! How lucky is that.

    Way to keep cool under pressure!

    Thanks for checking out my site

    1. Author

      Stephen,

      Thanks for checking out mine! It was a crazy coincidence, but certainly a fortunate one! 🙂

      Kay

  6. Kay –
    That is a great story. I can’t believe the guy was still that close and that he didn’t hide it away quickly. What are the chances that he would keep it in site and the wind would blow his scarf so you could see it? You were very bold at a young age to act that quickly and get it back! I’m very impressed! I’m glad you didn’t have to ruin your trip by trying to replace your passport. Way to go!
    Michelle

  7. So glad that turned out well for you! Your story points out how important it is to keep calm when things go wrong while traveling, as they will. Maybe we wouldn’t want it any other way, as that’s where good stories come from, no?

  8. I have a similar story (that I haven’t yet written down yet for my blog, but will someday!) A man stole my handbag with our passports in it on a train station platform in Rome.

    Quick thinking made me realize what had happened right away, and that was critical, because the man had jumped onto a train that was about to pull away.

    We flushed him out of the train, and my brave husband chased the guy who dropped my bag with our passports still in it. We were very lucky, this happens to lots of people every year who never get their stufff back!

    1. Author

      Shanna,

      I am so glad things turned out well for you as well! Thinking fast is what saved both of us, it seems, and I guess while traveling being alert and acting quickly is of key importance. I’ll definitely have to write a Tuesday Tips article about alertness and thinking quickly sometime soon!

      Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’ve seen you on some of the blogging groups on Facebook and I am excited to cruise through your blog as well 🙂

      ~Kay

  9. Now THAT was a close call! Well done for spotting him! Did you think about notifying the police? Valuable lesson learned.

Leave a Comment